Plot: Jamal (Martin Lawrence) works at a medieval themed mini-golf course, but he has little pride in what he does, as he just wants a paycheck. When a rival attraction opens nearby, he shows no concern about the course he works at and even encourages the owners to sell and run, despite her deep connection to the business. As he cleans one of the course’s moats, he suffers a head injury as he reaches for a gold item in the water, then wakes up in a strange place. At first he thinks he has somehow ended up at the new medieval attraction, as the castles and period detail are too realistic to be at the course he works at, but he soon realizes that the bump on his head has transported him back in time, to the real medieval era. He is mistaken for a royal courier and given the first class treatment, but he is also drawn into a dangerous power struggle and if his cover his blown, he could be sent to the dungeon or worse.
Entertainment Value: If you’ve ever wanted to see Martin Lawrence in a medieval setting, Black Knight is your chance and while the movie isn’t a comedy classic, it has some fun moments. The premise is a well worn one, with someone sent through time to learn a lesson, compliments of a knock on the dome. There isn’t much to this one beyond the basic concept, as it basically just follows Lawrence and lets him do his usual shtick, just in a new environment. The jokes are simple and rather predictable, so again, the main draw is Lawrence himself and the twist he puts on the material, so hopefully you’re a fan of his work. The tone is of course light and comedic, but the pace is a little on the slow side and the humor isn’t as over the top as you might expect, which I think was a mistake. The premise is pure silliness, so I think the material should have embraced that, instead of burning a good deal of time on a flimsy romance and some drama, which don’t yield much entertainment. So if you’re not a fan of Lawrence, you likely won’t be won over here, but if you appreciate his humor, albeit a toned down version, then give Black Knight a look.
As I said above, this is a vehicle for Martin Lawrence and while some talent has been put around him, this is all his show. His costars aren’t given much time to shine and he is the core of most scenes, as no real side stories unfold. This is perhaps why the pace lags somewhat, as the main narrative just doesn’t have enough material to support a feature length duration, so there’s a good deal of filler scenes. But Lawrence does what he was likely brought in to do, which is unleash his usual brand of humor, though he is a little toned down here. His manic persona still comes through and he mines his well tested tropes, but doesn’t go as over the top or aggressive as he sometimes does. This is fine if you prefer a softer approach, but given how bland the material is, his wilder side could have punched things up a little. Tom Wilkinson is fun to watch in a smaller role, with some real cringe moments, especially as he is taught some street moves by Lawrence, with hokey results. The cast also includes Daryl Mitchell, Marsha Thomason, Vincent Regan, and Kevin Conway.